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Saturday, April 28, 2018

The utter foolishness of

A reader in England bought a copy of my latest, Finale, read it, enjoyed it, and posted a five-star review, headed:

"A pacey thriller by one of our best writers.
"Finale combines historical fact with a fast moving plot to provide a truly enjoyable read. With a strong central character, excellent settings and an unusual and intriguing introduction, it had me from the start..."

Indeed, he liked it so much that he passed it on to his wife.

She read it, enjoyed it, and posted a five-star review, one that began: "A great read, interesting historical backdrop to a good story..."

And strongly objected.  Not only had the couple the same last name (though not an uncommon one), but they used the same browser and ISP.

They might even have used the same computer!

So pulled both reviews, and sternly commanded them to never post a review of that product again.

This is what they wrote:


We are unable to post your Customer Review for "Finale" to the Amazon website because our data shows elements of your Amazon account match elements of other Amazon accounts reviewing the same product. In these cases, we remove the reviews to maintain trust in our customer reviews and avoid any perception of bias.

Customer Reviews are meant to give customers unbiased product feedback from fellow shoppers. It is our goal to provide Customer Reviews that help customers make informed purchase decisions. Therefore, any reviews that could be viewed as advertising, promotional, or biased will not be posted. This includes reviews by more than one customer in the same household.

Once a review is removed because it does not comply with our guidelines, the reviewer may not submit any new reviews on the same product.

To learn more about this policy, please see our Community Guidelines (

Your feedback is helping us build Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company.

Warmest regards,
Review Moderator

So the reader went onto Chat, to find out what on earth had happened.  And this -- he emailed me -- is how it went:

Me:Please explain why my review for this kindle has been deleted.
You're now connected to Anudeep from
Anudeep: Hello, my name is Anudeep. I'm here to help you today.
Just to confirm, are you referring to "
Finale Kindle Edition " ?
Anudeep:  I'm sorry for the inconvenience. I see that your review has been posted and is under consideration by our Kindle reviewing team.
It will be posted soon on our pages and you will be sent an acknowledgement regarding this,
Me: It has already appeared, but, after my wife also reviewed the book, both were deleted. I bought a copy of the book. Nothing inflammatory was included in the review, and my wife read my copy - surely that is allowed?
Anudeep: Yes, as informed the review is under consideration. Let me connect you to our specialist team.
A Customer Service Associate will be with you in a moment.
You're now connected to Gayathri from
Me: Hello Gayathri can you shed any light on this?
Gayathri: Hi
Hope you are doing good?
 I understand your concern regarding the reviews you are unable to view
Let me check this for you
Thank you for staying connected!
In order to help you with this, I've escalated this to our team and they are looking into this
They will get back to you with an email with an update within 24 hours
Would that be fine?
Hope we are still connected?
Me: Do I have a choice? I review reasonably regularly but really wonder why when this sort of thing happens. As a writer myself, I know the frustration of knowing people have placed reviews only to find them not appearing. I have never met Joan Druett but do admire her work. If I am not allowed to say so, it rather defeats the object of having a review system in the first place.
Gayathri: I understand your concern and I would feel the same if I were you
Me: Okay, I shall wait to hear what your people say. Thank You
And what came by email?  Exactly the same letter, complete with the warmest regards.

The reader responded: "The review system is flawed enough as it is, this ruling only makes it worse, and Amazon look amazingly foolish. (I certainly won't waste my time adding further reviews, and will encourage others to do the same.)
"If it is really your intention to provide unbiased feedback on products then you should only allow reviewed from verified purchasers - so why don't you?"

 And then, with wonderful irony, which they won't notice, alas, he concluded:
"Warmest regards"  

And this, according to their website, dictates who can post an honest review:

Who can write a review?

To write a Customer Review, you must have spent at least £40 on Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don't qualify towards the £40 minimum. After you meet this requirement, you'll be able to review any product on regardless of where you purchased that product. We don't permit reviews of the same product from customers in the same household.
According to thm, no matter how much you have enjoyed a book, there is no point in lending it to a person in the same household!

What can a writer or reviewer do, in the face of this strange obduracy?
All suggestions gratefully received.  With warmest regards...

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